So wait, Skywave...when a head or headstack is newly manufactured, isn’t it lapped at that point? And wouldn’t that make any subsequent lapping a “re-lap?” Or are you saying new assemblies are not lapped?

And with regard to this particular thread we are talking about a TSR-8 with semi-fixed head mounting...no crazy zenith issues with which to contend which is primarily what I’ve seen as the first ruiner of heads as far as maladjustment. My point is there is a better opportunity for re-lapping such a headstack on this machine than on another with fully adjustable head mounting type machine, so the OP is not nuts for asking about this, though clearly in this it’s too far gone because the OP references exposed gapping.

Regarding optical alignment I’ve personally sent two headblock assemblies to John French for alignment and was very pleased with the results. I’m also confident if something WAS found incorrect with any work he’d stand behind his work and correct the issue. So, speaking of internet lore, let’s not go all crazy and start a rumor JRF is an unreliable service provider.